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Recover Deleted Files from Recycle Bin on Mac

Recover Deleted Files from Recycle Bin on Mac

Losing valuable files on your Mac can be an exasperating experience, especially if they were inadvertently deleted from the Recycle Bin. However, don’t panic! There are several effective methods to help you recover those precious files. From the robust Disk Drill app to utilizing Time Machine, and even exploring Terminal commands, we’ve got you covered. In this guide, I will share my personal experiences and provide a step-by-step walkthrough of various options for recovering deleted files on macOS.


Common Scenarios:

Accidental Deletion 😱

  • While cleaning up your Mac, you might hastily empty the Recycle Bin only to realize a few moments later that you have deleted important files.

We’ve all been there—clicking ‘Empty Trash’ in haste, only to remember crucial files too late. Accidental deletion is a common scenario, but don’t worry; there are ways to recover those files.

System Crash or Failure 🚨

  • A sudden system crash or failure can sometimes result in files getting deleted or corrupted.

Unexpected system crashes can be disastrous, potentially leading to data loss. Fortunately, there are reliable methods to recover your files even in such dire situations.

Software Glitches 🪲

  • Occasionally, software glitches may result in unintended file deletions.

Software bugs and glitches can unexpectedly wipe out your data. Although this is less frequent, it can happen, and knowing multiple recovery methods is key.


Step-by-Step Guide. How To Recover Files Deleted From Recycle Bin Mac:

Method 1: Using Disk Drill 🛠

  • Download and install Disk Drill from the official website.
  • Open Disk Drill and select your main hard drive or the specific location where the deleted files were located.
  • Click on ‘Recover’ and let Disk Drill scan for deleted files. This might take some time, depending on the size of the drive.
  • Once the scan is complete, browse through the list of recoverable files, select the ones you need, and click ‘Recover’ again.
  • Save the recovered files to a new location to avoid overwriting other recoverable data.

Note: Disk Drill’s free version allows you to recover up to 500MB of data, which is more than enough for most individual users.

Conclusion: Disk Drill is highly reliable and user-friendly, making it an excellent first choice for file recovery on a Mac.

Method 2: Time Machine Backup 🕰

  • Connect your Time Machine backup drive to your Mac.
  • Open the folder where the deleted files were located.
  • Click the Time Machine icon in the menu bar and select ‘Enter Time Machine.’
  • Navigate through the Time Machine backup to find the older version of the folder and select the deleted files.
  • Click ‘Restore’ to bring the deleted files back to their original location.

Note: Make sure you regularly backup your data to avoid losing important files in the future.

Conclusion: Time Machine is a fantastic built-in feature that can save you from a data loss disaster if used regularly.

Method 3: Using Terminal 🖥

  • Open Terminal from the Utilities folder in Applications.
  • Type in the command cd .Trash and press Enter.
  • Next, type in sudo mv [filename] /[destination] and press Enter. Replace [filename] with the actual name of the file and [destination] with the location you want to move the file to.
  • Enter your admin password if prompted, and your file should be restored.

Note: This method requires some familiarity with Terminal commands. Be cautious while using any commands to avoid further issues.

Conclusion: Using Terminal can be a powerful method for those comfortable with command-line interfaces, offering another way to restore deleted files.

Method 4: Restore from iCloud 🖱

  • Open Safari or any other web browser and navigate to iCloud.
  • Log in with your Apple ID and navigate to ‘iCloud Drive’ or another relevant section.
  • Browse through the folders to find the deleted files.
  • Select the files you want to restore and click the ‘Download’ button to save them back to your Mac.

Note: Ensure your files are regularly synced with iCloud to make this method useful.

Conclusion: iCloud provides a handy way to recover your files, especially if you keep a consistent backup.

Method 5: Recovering from External Backups 💾

  • Connect the external backup drive to your Mac.
  • Navigate through the folders on the backup drive to locate the deleted files.
  • Copy the files you want to restore and paste them back to the desired location on your Mac.

Note: Always keep an updated backup of your Mac on an external drive to mitigate data loss risks.

Conclusion: Regular external backups can be a lifesaver, offering another layer of protection against data loss.

Method 6: PhotoRec 🖼

  • Download and install PhotoRec from the official website.
  • Open the application and select the drive from which you want to recover files.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to start the scanning process. This can take a while depending on the size of your drive.
  • Once the scan is complete, review the list of recoverable files and choose the ones you need.
  • Restore the selected files to a new location on your Mac.

Note: PhotoRec is free software but may have a steep learning curve for beginners.

Conclusion: PhotoRec offers powerful recovery options for those who are willing to invest the time in learning how to use it effectively.

Method 7: Using Data Recovery Services 💼

  • Search for reputable data recovery service providers in your area.
  • Contact them to discuss your situation and set up an evaluation.
  • Send or bring your Mac to the service provider for a professional assessment.
  • Once they have identified the issue, they’ll recover your files for you.
  • Review the recovered data and confirm that everything is as expected.

Note: This is often the most expensive option, but it can also be the most effective if other methods fail.

Conclusion: Professional recovery services are best suited for critical situations where standard tools may not be sufficient.


Watch on Youtube: Recover Deleted Files from Recycle Bin on Mac


Precautions and Tips:

Preventive Measures to Safeguard Data 💡

  • Always utilize the built-in Time Machine feature to back up your data regularly.
  • Consider using cloud storage services, such as iCloud, Google Drive, or Dropbox, for important files.
  • Regularly update your macOS and other applications to prevent software glitches.
  • Be cautious when emptying the Recycle Bin; double-check its contents if necessary.

Ensuring that your data is routinely backed up can save you a lot of time and hassle. Consider integrating these preventive measures into your daily routine to avoid future data loss scenarios.

Additional Safety Guidelines for Data Protection 🛡

  • Use reliable antivirus and anti-malware software to protect against cyber threats.
  • Enable FileVault encryption to secure your data from unauthorized access.
  • Perform regular disk health checks to spot any potential issues early.
  • Consider creating redundant backups on multiple external drives.

Adhering to these guidelines will enhance the security and durability of your data, providing you with peace of mind.

Optimizing System Performance 🚀

  • Regularly clean up your startup disk to improve system performance and keep it running smoothly.
  • Utilize disk space management apps to identify and remove unnecessary files.
  • Keep your system software up-to-date to benefit from the latest features and security patches.
  • Review and update your data backup strategies periodically.

Optimizing your Mac’s performance not only enhances your computing experience but also minimizes the likelihood of data loss due to system failures.


Further Readings

For more insightful information on how to stay proactive and avoid data loss on your Mac, check out the following articles. To understand the nuances of Mac’s file system and get additional tips on preventing accidental deletions, you can visit How To Geek’s guide. This article presents a comprehensive overview of the macOS file recovery ecosystem, detailing various scenarios and best practices for data recovery.

If you’re interested in exploring more advanced recovery options, consider checking out this thorough guide on MacWorld. This piece explains different approaches and tools in a detailed manner, tailored for users with different skill levels. Whether you’re a beginner or someone with more advanced technical knowledge, this guide provides useful insights and recommendations.

Another valuable resource is Setapp’s detailed article, which delves into myriad methods and tips for restoring deleted files on macOS. Covering everything from built-in features like Time Machine to third-party tools, Setapp offers practical advice for various data loss situations.

Exploring these articles will provide you with a richer understanding of how to efficiently manage and safeguard your valuable data on a Mac, ensuring that you are better prepared for any unforeseen data loss scenarios.


Recovering lost files on a Mac might seem daunting, but with the right tools and methods, it’s entirely possible. From utilizing the robust Disk Drill application to making the best use of built-in features like Time Machine, you have multiple avenues to explore. Regularly backing up your data and following preventive measures can save you from future headaches. For more community-driven tips and solutions, consider visiting Apple Discussions on how to recover files deleted from recycle bin mac. Safeguarding your data is crucial, and taking proactive steps today can protect you from data loss disasters tomorrow.

Top 5 Data Recovery Apps of 2024 for Mac & Windows: Independent and Unbiased Insights from Reddit


Stop using the Mac immediately to avoid overwriting the deleted files, increasing the chances of recovery.

Yes, Time Machine is a built-in tool that can often be used to retrieve deleted files from a recent backup.

Connect the backup drive, open the folder where the file was located, and launch Time Machine to find and restore the deleted file.

Consider using third-party recovery software designed for macOS, such as Disk Drill or Data Rescue, to retrieve deleted files.

Software like Disk Drill can scan deep into the Mac’s storage to recover files even if they have been deleted from the Recycle Bin.

Yes, if files are synced with iCloud, they can be recovered from the iCloud website by checking the Recently Deleted folder.

Using Terminal commands might help retrieve deleted files, but this method is more complex and not always guaranteed to work for all users.

Professional services like Ontrack and DriveSavers specialize in recovering lost files from various storage devices.

Regular backups with Time Machine or other services can prevent data loss, allowing easy file retrieval even after deletion.

Enable features like System Integrity Protection and maintain an organized file structure to minimize the risk of accidental deletions.